The Key Lime Pie from Longhorn Steakhouse. Happy 3.14 everyone!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
To say that I had been eagerly anticipating this meal for awhile would be a very huge understatement.
Almost as big an understatement as it would be to call Jiko our favorite meal of the trip. Possibly favorite meal of ever.
As I had mentioned in the beginning, Adam and I had originally planned for this trip to coincide with our 3-year anniversary, which was October 6th. And pretty much as soon as the trip was booked, we had Jiko reserved for our anniversary dinner.
And then...well...you know.
In between the time of our original reservation and our new one, a few menu changes occurred. The macaroni and cheese no longer accompanied the filet, which I had been considering having, but hadn't been totally fixated on having.
Unfortunately for my beloved Adam, a dessert he had been eyeing (nay, drooling over already), the Coffee and Koeksisters (spiced doughnuts), also disappeared. He was shocked. Dismayed. None of the new dessert offerings would ever take its place.
Well, we'd see about that.
On the way to Jiko:
We got there a bit early, and were told they wouldn't start seating until 5:30 (our reservation was for 5:35). We meandered around the lobby of AKL. We stood in the waiting area between Boma and Jiko. We then hung out in the bar area just inside the doors of Jiko, and then were called to our table.
When we approached the hostess stand with our now buzzing buzzer, the hostess handed us a card for our anniversary, which the staff had signed.
We thanked them for this unexpected and sweet gesture, and were led to our table. Some ambiance:
We were seated near the wall shown above, which subtly changed colors throughout the evening to represent a sunset.
Upon being seated, we were given two types of bread (honey wheat and flax seed) and tandoori butter.
I then notified the server about my litany of annoying food allergies, and he promptly brought out some safe bread and butter for my side of the table (the flax seed bread and regular butter).
I enjoyed the bread, it had a very nice flavor. Adam said, "the tandoori butter was very tasty, it went well with both of the breads. The flavor of the butter was strong, but not overpowering."
Next, it was time for appetizers. I had been looking at one in particular for awhile, and decided I couldn't not try it.
This is the barbecue chicken flatbread, and it is simply outstanding. I loved the barbecue sauce with the crispy sweet crunch of the apples and jicama. I was thrilled to finally get to try this, after seeing pictures of it for so long!
Adam had the Wild Boar Tenderloin for his appetizer:
He describes this as "wonderful, served over chakalaka, which was spicy, but just enough to contrast the buttery boar. There was a little mealie in the chakalaka, but it was more for the textural component." I tried a bite (okay, 2) of this, and thought it was delicious (possibly even a touch more so than my flatbread. And yes, I shared that too!)
For our main courses, I had the filet, which was served with fingerling potatoes and pole beans.
There were spices of some sort that I am unable to have in the red wine sauce, so that's why that is missing. I thought that the filet was a fantastic cut of beef, buttery and flavorful. I wished I had been able to try this in its true form, as it was very very very good, but was missing that unique touch that all of the dishes seemed to have. Definitely a delicious course though!
Adam then moved on to the Braised Berbary Duck
Honestly, I have never seen Adam enjoy a course more than this one. "The duck was like slices of filet mignon - it was soo tasty and tender. It was served over tandoori potatoes and chanterelle mushrooms, which were equally as good as the duck, and bruleed figs for a sweet component." I did not taste any of this, as I was afraid of spicy allergens within. It did look like a beautiful and delectable dish, and he literally cleared the plate.
For dessert, our wonderful server brought over an anniversary treat for each of us.
I received a sorbet sampler with triple berry, apricot, and strawberry sorbets. The strawberry and apricot were both fabulous, but the triple berry was honestly the best sorbet (possibly dessert) I have ever tasted. It was jam-packed with flavor and wonderfulness. I savored that little scoop like it was a precious treasure hahaha.
(The slightly impatient) Adam was given the Amarula Creme Brulee. He is not typically a creme brulee fan (I know, right?), but he called this "incredible". It had a layer of chocolate on the bottom that he said gave it a little something extra. I was unable to taste, just got to watch him swoon.
When we were about halfway through our desserts, our server came by and said that the only other dessert on the menu I would be able to have besides the sorbets was the chocolate cremeux cake, and if we would like to try that as well, he'd be happy to bring it over.
Adam left it up to me.
Oh, I was SO tempted. I kind of regret my decision now, but...
Sometimes (rarely) I like to put up the appearance of being dainty, and didn't want to toss even more decadence on top of the already amazing meal. I was already stuffed. It would have been just in excess.
OH WHY DID I SAY NO????
I savored my last drop of triple berry sorbet, and thus concluded our anniversary meal at Jiko.
Despite thinking about this dinner for approximately 7 months, Jiko still managed to exceed our expectations. It was a wonderful meal from start to finish, with attentive service, beautiful ambiance, and delicious dishes. Absolutely our favorite meal of the vacation.
To conclude, a brief stop in the Beach Club on the way back led to this awesome chair find:
Doesn't it look like we took a little stroll through Pixie Hollow? Also: yes, it was cold enough for gloves!!
Saturday, February 26, 2011
First, things we did not eat on the Jungle Cruise:
So after our filling Kona breakfast, Adam and I made our way around the MK. I continually reminded him that we had dinner at Jiko that night, so appetites had better be ravenous for then. No extraneous snacking!
Early on in the lunching time frame, we found ourselves in the vicinity of CHH, a CS I had wanted to try. However, after we finally found the entrance (a bit tricky coming from Fantasyland, at least for us!), it was bustling inside, and we weren't all that hungry, so we trekked on.
A bit later, around ::checks photo time:: 1 or so, we (read: I) was starting to get a bit hungry. I toyed briefly with the idea of getting a funnel cake from Sleepy Hollow (shockingly, a snack I didn't get during this trip at all), then remembered Casey's. Adam was on board.
While making our way over, I began to get nervous about crowds there, as it was pretty much peak eating time, and CHH was busy during practically breakfast. However, when we walked in, the stations were only about 2 people deep. Yay!
In keeping with my decree of having voracious appetites for dinner, we ate light. I had a hot dog, and Adam was originally going to get one as well, but then the corn dog nuggets caught his eye.
(I have no idea why I had my camera on the tungsten filter, sorry about the blue lunches. It's fixed for the Jiko pictures though, don't worry!)
I had heard all about the new buns for the hot dog, that they were using whole wheat buns now (which still doesn't make sense to me on items like a hot dog). They were obviously not squishy white bread buns, but they didn't bother me too much. They didn't fall apart or crumble when I ate. The hot dog was warm and perfect for a not-very-filling snack.
Adam called his corn dog nuggets "a nice little fast lunch, they were ok, standard corndogs, just miniaturized and put with spicy brown mustard."
I would definitely come back to Casey's, especially for a more full meal (I had opted out of having fries, but will not make that mistake again, especially with that melty cheese available!)
Monday, February 21, 2011
So you know that meal you've had in the past at Disney, that one that was SO good, and you just think about it and book reservations to go back and really really hope that it's just like you remembered? Especially since you've convinced your travel companion that it's awesome and a must-do?
Thankfully, some things stay the same (phew!)
So Adam and I headed off to Kona Cafe. Well, our journey to Kona began several months prior, back when we were scouring (read: basically memorizing) restaurant menus and I told him about the wonder and majesty that is Tonga Toast. He was in awe ("wait, it's FRIED?!?!"), I was giddy with anticipation. I had a plan, a plan involving some pancakes, pineapples, and macadamia nuts. I had seen way too many pictures of these to not try them for myself.
Adam waiting patiently for his sugary fried dough. It has a banana in it. It's healthy fruit!
Speaking of healthy fruit, we both had orange juice. I had completely forgotten to tell Adam about the Lilikoi juice (which I'm absolutely positive he would have loved) until after we placed our juice orders. He was content with his choice (spoiler alert: he did absolutely love the Boma equivalent. Frunch? Jungle Juice? ::asks Adam:: West African Frunch.)
Pretty soon this arrived at the table
Syrup, butter, and strawberry sauce for the Tonga Toast. Oooh the giddy anticipation across the table was rising. Adam experimentally tasted some of the strawberry sauce on the end of his knife, and declared it delicious. I agreed, although it was a touch sweet for my taste (He loves sugary items - I once gave Adam pure cane sugar candies from Epcot, which were some of his favorites, just as a point of reference)
And the glorious moment then arrived.
Adam: "It was very good, the ham was very tasty, nicely grilled, and the tonga toast was great, both dips were really tasty although the strawberry definitely won out."
(I had gotten the pineapple and butter on the side)
WOW these were good! And dense! But tasty! And really, so filling! But just one more bite!
Or, as Adam puts it, "your pancakes were chock full o'nuts."
Now, I can eat pancakes pretty much anytime, anywhere, tons of them. I love pancakes. And I've eaten some dense pancakes before, but I was really surprised when I was only able to eat this much of them. (And this was with a bit of effort here, folks.)
These pancakes are PACKED with macadamia nuts! Delicious, but I had to leave a saddening amount behind. The sausage was just regular sausage. Not jam-packed with macadamia nuts, thank goodness lol!
Tremendously full, I then realized something...we get two beverages with breakfast! I'm going to assume this is typically used for coffee, especially at Kona, but neither Adam or I are coffee drinkers.
I do, however, enjoy a nice hot chocolate.
This may not look like much, but it was the best hot chocolate of the trip (this one may have kicked off a hot chocolate with breakfast trend for this traveler). And after I had ordered it, I realized that it would have been a good idea to get it in a to-go cup, as we were pretty much stuffed with pancake and French, er, Tonga toast by then. Just as I thought of this, the server came back, the hot chocolate already in a to-go cup! I praised his brilliance, and we were on our way, deliciousness in tow (I think I was spoiled by the chocolatey drizzle).
So did Kona Cafe live up to our breakfast expectations? Absolutely! AND we got to MK in time to see the opening show, which I hadn't thought we'd be able to, and hadn't seen before!
Saturday, February 19, 2011
After meandering around Epcot for a bit, Adam and I arrived at La Hacienda for our dinner reservation. I'd been sneaking peeks at the place from around the lagoon, and it looked like it would be a great dinner spot.
Inside, the restaurant is even prettier. I had known about the floor-to-ceiling windows along the dining room, but I just loved the little touches and details that themed the room, but didn't make it cheesy or overwhelming. It was just nice.
(Sorry about the used glasses in the top photo, I thought it sorta showed the window view. And that our former neighbors drank pink lemonade.)
And some hungry diners:
Having read all about the DDXP, and the sheer amount of food that accompanies it, I thought it would be wise to start off the evening on a lighter note, and had the Ensalada de La Hacienda.
I'm still not entirely sure what happened with this dish, as I had advised the server about my food allergies, and had asked for the salad without pine nuts. Apparently this led to the pomegranates (the draw of the salad in the first place for me) and dressing to be left off as well. So it was a pretty boring salad, just some cheese, tomatoes, and a bunch of spinach. Not bad, but not interesting.
Adam was a bit of a better orderer than I, he decided on the Taquiza.
According to him, "the tacos were very good, all had corn tortillas, but I'd have to say the rib eye taco was by far the best. It had a chipotle salsa on it that was really good, but the pork wasn't too shabby either. They were perfect little 2 bite morsels for an appetizer."
Partway through the course, tired of eating dry spinach leaves, I squeezed the lime from his plate over my salad. It was a citrusy improvement.
For our main course, Adam and I shared the La Hacienda, a mixed grill for two.
Steak, chicken, chorizo, vegetables, corn, corn tortillas, rice, and black beans.
I wasn't a big fan of the steak (I may have just grabbed a slightly fatty piece, Adam thought that it had a nice cilantro topping). The chicken was great, it had a sweet honey sauce on it that Adam went nuts over (he called it "delectable"). The little chorizos were good, they were little bite-sized ones, which I hadn't expected. The vegetables were just plain grilled vegetables, nothing bad. Adam liked the corn tortillas more than I did, but they weren't bad. The rice was good, as were the black beans.
The corn was where we were a bit divided. It had a vinegary pickled flavor, which I did not enjoy at all (and I did try a few little bites throughout the evening, just to be fair). Adam called the corn "amazing, a vinegary bite to a sweet corn that was very crisp and tasty." He's the one with the much more adventurous palate in our relationship, so I'm sure those of you with braver tastes than I will definitely enjoy it. Me, however, I will stick to those plain old grilled veggies.
For dessert, we both had the Tamal de Dulce, which (I know this sounds bad), I really hadn't expected to like.
Happily, I was wrong! I was afraid that it would be too sweet, but it really had a nice fruity flavor. Adam agrees, "The tamal was very tasty, not a whole lot of filling and was a little dry, but the strawberry coulis more than made up for it as there was plenty to saturate it."
Overall, we both really enjoyed our dinner here. The ambiance was very nice and the food was tasty. In my opinion, La Hacienda is a great addition to Epcot!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Actual Disney food now!!!
So Adam and I (fortified solely on a bagel and blue chips so far) checked in at the Yacht Club, dropped our bags off at the room, and scooted right over to Beaches & Cream next door. We had never been here, just had heard about it online, and were excited to have lunch here.
We walked to the podium at around 12:15, and I was surprised to be given a choice of a counter, table, or booth, all available right away, given the size of the restaurant. We chose the booth, and happily began to peruse the sherbet-hued menu.
We both decided on the Roast Beef Sub, which comes with cheese, peppers, onions, and (possibly) mushrooms. It is also accompanied by french fries and au jus for dipping.
I enjoyed this, it was a nice and filling meal after our journey to the World. Adam says that "it was good, a teensy bit dry, but the au jus was enough to make up for it, it had a nice flavor. The fries were run of the mill, and not very well salted."
Beaches and Cream has those fun squeezy bottles of ketchup and mustard, which Adam used to create a hidden condiment Mickey.
Adam ordered a strawberry malt along with his sandwich, which he really enjoyed: "very thick and malty, probably the best malt i've had since i was a kid."
I had asked our waitress earlier in the meal about non-dairy ice cream alternatives available (they offer Rice Dream and Tofutti products), the wheels in my head turning in the direction of a post-sub sundae. However, as I watched him delighting in his frozen treat (a teensy bit jealous), our waitress came over to let me know that they could make me a non-dairy malt with soy milk and either the Rice Dream or Tofutti, if I so desired.
I love Disney World.
Yes, vanilla please.
(Yes, that is whipped cream on top - I can have limited bits of dairy.)
I never knew non-dairy life could be so rich and decadent!! This was the perfect way to start our vacation, and Adam was thrilled I could join him for a malt, something we never even considered could be possible.
Filled with meaty and malty goodness, we were now ready to start our vacation!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Okay, so that kind of lacks the same oomph as "I'm going to Disney!", but it was still pretty triumphant. Adam and I went to Disney for our anniversary, albeit 2 months late because of continued recovering. But we went!
To come are a few thoughts about the places we ate around WDW. To start, well, we had to get there, right?
This was the first time we had ever flown JetBlue (loved it!), and hence, the first time ever enjoying these little cerulean delights of crunch. A little bland, but the color definitely makes up for it (I ate them on the way home too).
Once we get there, here's where we go!
Beaches and Cream (lunch)
La Hacienda de San Angel (dinner)
Kona Cafe (breakfast)
Casey's Corner (lunch)
Captain's Grille (breakfast)
Tangerine Cafe (lunch)
Boulangerie Patisserie (lunch)
Goofy's Candy Company (snack)
Raglan Road (dinner)
Grand Floridian Cafe (breakfast)
Kona Cafe (lunch)
Epcot snacks (lunch)
La Cantina de San Angel (lunch)
Captain's Grille (breakfast)
Rose & Crown (lunch)